Paperwork, paperwork.

My first morning in Sakai was waking up at 6:30 AM, unable to sleep.  I think I’m still getting used to sleeping on a futon.  I think later down the road I’m going to want a bed but for now, it will have to do.  Seeing that I didn’t have any food, I had to go to the conbini to go get some breakfast.  This would be a very common thing to do until I got a fridge, I’m pretty sure the morning workers are starting to recognize me.  After some sushi breakfast, we met with Ohashi-sensei to get started with all of our paperwork.  First up was our alien registration card, or our gaijin card for short.  Since we were a group of 4, it took awhile to finish the process.  Most of us had to get passport photos as we didn’t have any on us but luckily there was a passport photo booth right next to the conbini. Conbinis are very magical because although it’s the size of a gas station, they have a ton of things in there like food, bathroom supplies, DVDs, magazines, and other random things.  You can even pay your bills at conbinis. It’s crazy how it works.

After that, we were off to the bank to set up our bank accounts.  Once again, more waiting was involved.  I feel a bit dumb because I suck at using my hanko.  A hanko is basically a signature stamp that you use for official things.  The thing with me is that I can never stamp it correctly.  It amuses the Japanese and they usually end up doing it for me.  How can I fail at something so simple? Oh well, I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it.  While we were waiting, I was watching a baseball game and an elderly lady sat down next to me and just started talking to me about things that I did not understand at all about.  I just smiled and nodded, feeling bad.  I have a feeling this is going to happen a lot!

After we finished that, we were off to lunch at the education center.  From what I understood, faculty and students were invited to eat outside.  There were two things going on for lunch.  First there was a tempura table where you could eat a variety of tempura vegetables which were delicious.  Eventually they gave us some onigiri (rice balls filled with a variety of things).  Secondly, there was this looong bamboo chute which was running water through it.  The faculty would place noodles and vegetables at the very top of the chute and it would make its way down to the bottom.  People would stand at each end and try to grab the food with their chopsticks and put it on their plate.  It was very hard for me to do as I’m not the greatest with chopsticks.  It was definitely a fun way to eat lunch though as you would be determined to grab a nice chunk of noodles and there was little time for error.  Here’s a picture of the thing:


And here’s a shot of the tempura table:


After lunch, we were off to shop some more as Andrew introduced us to more stores. Our first stop was Softbank,  a Japanese cell phone company.  Here we tried to get our phones but they wouldn’t let us until we would get a health insurance card.  People get different results depending where they go and what they say, I’m just guessing we didn’t have a good chance since we came in a big group.  We decided to temporarily give up for now and went to the hyaku en (100 yen) store and I got a lot of things for cheap.  For those who don’t know, hyaku-en shops is basically the Japanese equivalent of the dollar store except things are much nicer.  Sure, it might not have the greatest quality stuff in comparison to say, Nittori but it’s a very good store to go to if you’re on a budget.  After that, we went to Joshin, a huge electronic store to get the internet!  This was probably the most daunting task of the day.  It took about 2 hours to get everyone set up for internet.  Meanwhile, we would be hearing Joshin’s theme song (which is about 30 seconds long) loop over and over and OVER.  On the bright side, we would be getting internet in a week and a half (around August 6th) which is insanely fast compared to some people who have to wait for a month or so.   I took a few pictures of Joshin, it’s a pretty bright place:


It was getting pretty late by the time we finished.  I felt really bad for Ohashi-sensei as he was the one who had to do all the paperwork and explain it to four different people.  I’m really grateful for having him as our supervisor in that sense.  We went out to eat at the same mall area with the current JETs at some fast food Italian place.   The food was good and they offered really, really, cheap wine.  I mean this wine was really strong and it was only about 100 yen for a glass.  I heard people getting smashed here.  I’m not much of a wine person but I could appreciate cheap drinks.  After that, it was finally time for sweet rest.

The second day was pretty uneventful.  While the rest of the crew went back to Nittori to buy some things, I had to stay put as I had bought a refrigerator from a person who was living in Namba.  Ohashi-sensei was kind enough to offer his help by using the school’s truck and loading it over there. Thinking he would be back soon, I decided to stay put.

He was not back soon.  But it wasn’t his fault!  He was out with Andrew doing some more paperwork and it had taken longer than usual.  I’ve picked up that in Japan, signing up for stuff takes forever to do.  Luckily, I was a bit used to this as in Peru it is just as long as a wait if not worse.  It sucked because I could not leave the apartment for too long as there was no way for him to communicate with me when he returned.  I ended up really bored at my apartment.  Eventually, I gave up and got some lunch at the conbini as I was starving:


It wasn’t a bad lunch but I didn’t want to keep eating out every day.  Not too longer after I ate, Ohashi-sensei had arrived, apologizing for his tardiness.  We quickly got on the truck and headed to Namba.  Namba is a part of Osaka where one can do just about anything.  More on that on a later post though!  For now, we were just going to get the fridge.  The whole process took about 2-2.5 hours.  While it was long, I had an opportunity to talk to Ohashi-sensei one on one in English and Japanese.  He’s a very interesting and fun person to talk to.  Here’s him helping me load the fridge:


I loved the truck we were riding because it was so old, it reminded me driving in cars in Peru.  I know that sounds kinda weird but it made me feel right at home.  Everytime he would start the car from a stop, we would go backwards a bit and then go forward.  Good times.  We got rained on a bit on the way back but it wasn’t anything terrible.  I got a hell of a deal for the fridge, it was around 50 bucks!

After we moved the fridge to my place and I cleaned it up, we ate at Andrew’s since we wanted to go the cheap route that night.  After watching a movie, I was worn out and decided to immediately crash as soon as I got home.  As I write this, it really feels like it happened weeks ago but it’s only been a few days ago.  We have been doing so many things in such little time, you lose track of it.  Right now, blogging is a way to pass the time in my mostly empty apartment.  I just write on a Word document and once I get temporary online access, I copy/paste with some pictures and, voila!  Ohashi-sensei gave us his portable wi-fi device for us to use until we get internet this Saturday.  Well, I think I’ll end it here for now.  Next time I’m bored and feel like blogging, I’ll write about the trip to Namba.  Until then.


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